ANZAC day, 25th April, has become increasingly acknowledged amongst Australian people and is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. It is a public holiday for all, shops cannot open until after 10am to allow the many services and marches by past servicemen to take place.
At 6am, despite the steady rain, 100 people or so gathered at the Hawkesdale Streetscaping Area in the main median strip of Hawkesdale to attend the annual Dawn service for Anzac Day. The members of HADDAC (Hawkesdale and District Action Committee) are primarily responsible for the organisation of this service.
The service was led by Mr John Ralph, Assistant Principal, Hawkesdale P12 College with readings by the Hawkesdale College School Captains and the lowering and raising of the Australian flag by the Hawkesdale Scout Group.
We were reminded that this day was a time to recall all those who served in war, not only the survivors but those who did not return. Information on the Attack on Beersheba and the major events impacting on Australia from World War 2 1939-1945:- the Battle of Singapore 1942 and the bombing of Darwin. Note it is the 75th Anniversary of World War II.
This was followed by
- the Reflection Poem – Ode to the ANZACS by K K Liston
- Reflection of the Centenary of World War I (1917) and the 75 Anniversary of World War II 1942
- Wreath Laying by community representatives
- The Ode
- The Last Post played by James Baudinette
- One Minute Silence
- Reveille or Rouse on the Bugle
- The National Anthem
Our flag remained at half – mast until 12 noon. HADDAC, Hawkesdale Scouts and the Hawkesdale Memorial Hall committee offered a cup of tea/coffee, sausages in bread and Anzac Biscuits immediately after the service.
Our second linkup with Kate Leeming was a fascinating one. Students are seeing history being made. Kate videoconferenced in to us from minus 15 degrees in Whitehorse the capital of northwest Canada’s Yukon territory to us where we are experiencing 30 degrees in Victoria. Kate had just arrived in the chilly weather (-10 degree) of Yukon, Canada. Polycom Video conferencing equipment was used to videoconference her in from the home that she was staying in.
This is our last videoconference connection before Kate sets out on her bike riding trek across the Arctic circle. Kate is an Australian adventurer who will be the first to ride her bike across the Arctic. The video and audio was clear. She explained how she actually arrived in Canada before the time that she had left Australia. Kate talked about her specially built bike.
She talked about her preparation for the Arctic bike ride, showed us her fat bike, the first of its kind in the world, specially made by an engineer in Pittsburgh to cope with . Kate also talked about the special clothing requirements and need for layers and different fabrics. When she sweats it is important that her sweat does not freeze. It was particularly interesting to see her show objects such as the fat wheels of her bike, the special hat and mittens and boots etc. Three schools across Victoria linked in to the presentation with each school being given an opportunity to ask a question.
Bayley, from our school asked: “What gave you the idea to ride across snow and ice?”Kate’s answer was that she got the idea when she was cycling through the sand of the Australian outback desert. Always wanted to go to Antarctica so she thought about how she was going to ride – and what sort of bike. Cycling in sand at home, it is really hard – If it slips a bit, it can skid. She needed a system and a bike that would allow her to explore. The snow is a challenge but so beautiful.
You can follow Kate’s journey at http://kateleeming.global2.vic.edu.au
Three continents, two different time zones, two classes from different countries and the guest speaker from a third country/continent for International Women’s Day.
March 8th across the world is International Women’s Day. Our school continued to celebrate it on March 9th, when Canada, USA and others on the other side of the world were still in March 8th . A special lunchtime linkup was organised with Arianne Jones, a Luge Olympic Champion for Canada. Due to time zone confusion, the primary school students became part of a later connection rather than the lunchtime linkup that we were expecting. The fascinating part of the linkup was that a school from Delhi, India became part of our 3 way connection. The connection was organised through Skype in the Classroom and Classroom Champions.
Arianne was an inspiring speaker who should never have been a Luge champion. She is thin and far too light in weight. Even her coach had no faith in her and gave her little opportunity initially. However, she persevered and is now the Olympic Luge champion for Canada.
When she finished speaking, Arianne encouraged Hawkesdale students to ask 5 questions, then the students from India asked 5 questions – all really interesting and forcing us to cope with the Indian accent.
She encouraged the students to “dream big and chase your dreams!!!” The response from the Indian teacher was ” our kids are so overwhelmed speaking to you.. you have been a true motivation for them” There are many wonderful opportunities on Skype in the Classroom website, many tailored for special celebatory days
@skypeclassroom @@jonesluge #IWD2017 #IWD
It was World Book Day. To celebrate this day schools across the world were given a rare opportunity to Skype with Mark Wood – a Cold Extremes Adventurer. He has trekked across the North Pole and the South Pole and led an expedition to climb Mt Everest, taking millions of students across the world with him, by using Skype webconference in.
I was asked whether our school would be interested in connecting with him as there were still some time slots available.Not to miss any of these wonderful opportunities, I invited the school. For Mark, it was Thursday night at 10pm and Friday, 9am our time. We were the last school of the day. He had already been to schools in England, India, Croatia and 3 times to the USA.
Approximately 120 students from years 4-11 gathered in the library to hear Mark speak. He shared his stories, especially of his adventures to Mt Everest. His engaging speaking style, sense of humour and easy going manner endeared him to all who listened. Mark was motivating and inspiring. Unfortunately the Mt Everest expedition was called off just as they got to the death zone 200 metres from the top. One of the sherpas fell critically ill and the doctor experienced frozen feet. They made their way down and all survived.
We see people attempting Mt Everest on the television news, read of it in the magazines or newspapers but here we were listening and interacting with someone who had actually been there. We caught the emotions, excitement, the extra details in stories and felt we experienced the adventure with him. Mark humanized the expeditions.
After 15 mins of story telling , Mark handed over to the students to ask him questions. This was a wonderful interactivity that satisfied student curiosity and made us think of more questions.The young ones were less shy and asked most of them.
Some of their questions:
- What inspired you to be an explorer?
- How old were you when you had your first adventure?
- What was your favourite thing about climbing Mt Everest?
- Have you ever had a life threatening experience?
- How do you go and who do you go with?
- Was it cold at the North Pole?
- Have you ever forgotten anything?
- Have you had frostbite?
- What food and provisions do you take?
Our literacy teacher wrote new and key words on the whiteboard for discussion later. the older students immediately returned to class and wrote up some of what they learnt. When all the student stories were put together, there is almost a complete script or picture of Mark’s presentation.
His parting sentences reminded students that everything comes from education – if you think differently you will have a better life. The only thing preventing you is yourself. Earth will look after itself, but Mark wants to look after the human race.
Our school will continue to follow Mark on his second venture to conquer Mt Everest and be part of the new emerging stories. If you ever get an opportunity to hear Mark present, do no miss out. He was fantastic.
Kate Leeming is an Australian explorer/adventurer, who has cycled the equivalent distance of twice around the world at the Equator.
Rarely do we get the opportunity to listen to motivational and educational people of Kate’s calibre. It costs too much to bring them into our school face to face and the distance from Melbourne is great. How wonderful it was that my year 9/10 ICT class could listen to her via polycom videoconferencing equipment in a session set up by Digital Learning, Department of Education and Training.
Prior to the connection:
- Websites of potential interest to learn more about Kate were emailed out
- The access number for the session was also shared.
- A test call was required before the actual day to ensure the equipment worked.
- Students were given a short time to look at Kates blog set up especially for them.
- A backchannel was set up for students to add questions, experiences or general sharing as Kate was presenting
- Kate was formally introduced, explained a little what motivated her to do what she does, what she has done and how she hopes to cycle across Antarctica in 2018
- Kate shared her screen showing some of the amazing photographs that she took on her journey of being the first person to ride from East to West Africa.
- Students added questions into the backchannel as she spoke
The engagement factor
- Her presentation style was excellent and the images captivating.
- Her stories and experiences were interesting and inspiring
- Some of my most disengaged students weer active in the chat with questions, so she certainly held their interest
After the event
- The event was recorded Year 6 in our school will watch that as they were absent during this session.
- We can continue to follow her journey through her blog
- Students will be encouraged to subscribe to her blog and add comments on her posts.
- As we had to leave early, Kate kindly answered all our questions from the TodaysMeet backchannel and the document was emailed through to us.
- Students will write a blog post and add a link to Kate’s blog
Some follow up activities and further research include:-
- Level 5,6,7 Unit of Work – Climate Change and the Environment – –
- Take the Online Quiz – What is your Ecological Footprint?
- Taking action – Organise your own Expedition or Fundraiser
- Communicate with Kate – There is a Blog Post from Kate
What wonderful opportunities for students to get involved in? Why werent more schools in attendance for the session?
Hawkesdale P12 College is prep to year 12 school (students are aged 5 to 18 years of age.) This year we had a big intake of year 7 students from our feeder schools. Most of these students live in small rural towns or come from farms. It was decided to hold a welcome afternoon tea, primarily for the new parents, welcoming them to our school, enabling them to get to know each other and encouraging them to stay connected, get involved with the Parents Club and volunteering for canteen duty.
This was organised at quite short notice and as I have year 7 for ICT (Information and Communications Technology ie computers) for the last lesson of the day, I was asked to organise a skype linkup after the afternoon tea. The time of the lesson was 2:50pm which meant most of the USA were asleep. Our school teaches mandarin Chinese, so I made contact with one of my colleagues, Richard Howgate, hoping that we could connect. However, he is in the process of organising a new school, Guiyang Prime International School which does not open until August.
I approached some of my other network, but it is early in the morning for Russia and other colleagues were busy with other matters. It was with relief that Richard messaged me back to say he had arranged for his former school, Bozhou International School to connect with us. By this time it was the Tuesday, the day before our connection. However, I was now working with educationalists new to videoconferencing with skype.
Some of the questions they needed answered were:
- what will the connection look like ( I suggested mystery animal) and was asked to explain the basic premise of this game and what was required of the Buzhou students
- You mention that your students are learning mandarin. Does this mean that the focus of the class will be on their mandarin or a mix of English and mandarin? (The new students have only been learning mandarin for 2 weeks so it had to be predominantly in English – a brave effort on the part of the Chinese students to speak English)
- Could you give me a list of language structures and key vocab that are likely to be used in the class? The mystery animal sheets that Richard had set up were emailed through to Rick so the key vocab and nature of questions that could only have a yes/no answer was demonstrated.
Prior to the lesson (remember time was now the essence!)
- A copy of the mystery animal sheets were emailed through with a set of instructions on how to play mystery animal
- Setup my laptop in the room attached to the library where the afternoon tea would take place, testing the audio, video using tools>options>audio settings.
- The external webcamera had to be placed in a position where the Chinese students could see the majority of the gathering. It was put on top of the whiteboard.
- Unfortunately, there was no cable to plug my laptop into and get the best possible bandwidth, so I also logged onto the whiteboard in the actual library where it was too hot (we had a 36 degree autumn day) to really hold the afternoon tea but the desktop computer was cabled in.
- We gathered up some Australiana – a meat pie, cricket bat, some wool from a sheep to share at the end of the Mystery Animal
- A quick test call was made 45 mins before the connection with Bozhou. Their video did not work but the audio was good. I explained that Rick had to go to Tools>Options>video and choose the option for the external webcam that was attached to the laptop. I laughed when he said he now needed someone who could speak Chinese as the options were in Chinese! Next I could hear students in clear mandarin explaining which option it was. I hung up as I was in class as they assured me they could work on that.
The actual lesson
- Many of the class had not used skype or videoconferencing before, so some basic instructions were given in effective webcam use, clear speaking of questions.
- Everyone was given a handout with the animals on it and we discussed some possible questions that we could ask each other.
- We chose our animal (which was a gorilla) The Chinese students chose their African animal.
- A large Australian flag was got and students at the back of the room held it upright. We were delighted to see the Australian flag against the front tables in the Chinese school.
- Connection was made and a student from each country played paper rock scissors to see who would ask the first question. We won the right to ask the first question.
- If we got one affirmative answer to our questions, we had the right to ask another. Some of the questions asked were: “does it have 2 legs”, “does it have patterns?”, does it live in the jungle”, “does it have fur?”‘ “does it eat meat”. The Chinese students worked out our animal first and we finally worked out theirs – an antelope!
- Students would introduce themselves first, then ask the question.
- 10 mins was left to share a little of where we live and our culture. One of their questions was regarding the weather. Mobile phones were produced to the webamera to show the temperature. Ours showed up at 34 degrees, and there were verbal reactions from our students when they showed their 12 degrees.
- When the boys produced a cricket bat, they wanted to know if it was a baseball bat. The did not know of cricket – one of our favourite summer sports.
We had fun, learnt to cope with Chinese accents, used a webcamera effectively, formulated questions that required a yes/no answer and understood more about Chinese students, culture and schools.
And the feedback from China was
It’s great to work with you together for the Skype class today. It does accelerate a better understanding between cultures and establish a deep friendship between students. We all have a good experience and wonderful time and we are looking forward to running the class often in the future.
We are greatly indebted to Rick and Buzhou International School for connecting at such late notice, providing a class of the same age group and allowing us to get to know them further.
Learning Arabic, initially with a fluent speaker from the USA, Sophia Aron of Critical Language Service who has devised a series of flipped learning activities where students can learn vocabulary at home using apps at home which provides a fun and engaging way to learn. Then practising during face to face time with Sophia.
In our second class with Sophia, she setup a 3 way skype call, where a couple of young American children spoke to us in Arabic and showed us how they would greet each other if they were in Egypt. This was a great demonstration showing my older students what should be done.
Students enjoyed using the apps either individually, in pairs or in small groups. There was mixed reaction as to which they preferred – Quizlet, Memrise. or Flashcards by NKO.
Some of my Business Management class had learnt mandarin Chinese last year and queried why they would want to learn Arabic. However, I reminded them that they lived on farms and some of their beef and lamb would be exported to the Middle East. In fact when I travelled to Qatar many years ago, I saw Midfields vacuum packed lamb in the freezers in a local supermarket. Midfields is our local abattoir.
To supplement the language development, Sophie had added videos into the Memrise app. Students watched some of these to gain a better cultural understanding of the people – another important skill when dealing with global markets.
What a wonderful opportunity my students were given!
- the importance of hearing accents prior to dealing with them when connecting virtually
- class room setup. My computer lab is a great setup for normal classes but when connecting online with videoconferencing, it is not ideal. Straight rows in front of the webcamera would ensure better engagement for both sides.
- how effective videoconferencing can be for learning – and the abolute need for chat, video, audio, screen sharing and recording possibilites etc
- greater impact of a charismatic engaging teacher for learning
- importance of getting to know each other on a simple basis before getting into the nitty gritty of learning.